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Rector’s Address on the Occasion of the Solemn Inauguration of the Scholastic year

2007-2008

 

1. Welcome to One and All & The Number of Staff and Students

 

Your Excellency, Most Rev. Isidore Fernandes, Bishop of Allahabad,

My dear Fathers, Colleagues and Comrades,

My dear Sr. Marion,

My Beloved Brothers,

 

It is my third year as the head of this institution. At the outset I prostrate myself before the Almighty God in an unending adoration and thanksgiving for the superabundant blessings that He has been showering upon us in many ways. I am particularly indebted for His blessings received through the intercession of St. Joseph, our Heavenly Patron.

 

It is my joy, delight and privilege to welcome each of you to this short function, which marks the inauguration of Scholastic Year 2007-2008. First of all I welcome Most Rev. Isidore Fernandes for this solemn inaugural function. Your Excellency, you have a long association with this seminary. You cherish the moments spent in the seminary. On every significant day of the seminary you make yourself available to the seminary. Thus, you manifest your love, affection, care and concern towards our welfare. As in the past you conferred the ministries of Lector, Acolyte and Rite of Admission to our students as well as invoked God’s blessings and the Divine Spirit on us to guide us and to wish us well. I thank you for the institution of the ministries and appreciate your benevolent presence. At this juncture on behalf of the Seminary Community, I extend a warm welcome to you, Your Excellency.

 

On this day of inaugural function we are happy to have Rev. Sr. Marion, C.J. for the key-note address on “PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL MATURITY IN THE CONTEXT OF PRIESTLY FORMATION.” We are fortunate to have her for it as she is endowed with head of men and heart of women, i.e. to say she has an equilibrium of head and heart, reason and emotion, logical thinking and emotive expression. She has to her credit M.Ed. and now she pursues studies in Agricultural University for doctorate in Environmental Education. She is also the associate Professor in Department of College of Education in Agricultural University, Naini, Allahabad. She is a nominated member of National Monitoring Committee for Minorities Education by the Ministry of HRD, Delhi. She has been principal of prestigious T.T.C. for eight years. She is an insightful person to understand and to guide others. She has profound experiences in guiding youth in her educational ministry. Thus, she comes to address us with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I am sure that the Josem Parivar (Family) will immensely benefit from her key note address. So dear Sr. Marion, we extend a hearty welcome to you.

 

Now I would like to accord a cordial welcome to the members of the staff. This year we have nine resident staff, inclusive of one new member, i.e. Rev.Fr. Joseph Sagayanathan, who is appointed the Minister of the Seminary. It is a matter of joy to have him from the diocese of Allahabad to care for the properties of this seminary as they originally and now belong to this diocese and to care for the inmates. Rev.Fr. Joseph Sagayanathan is a man of verve and vitality. He has varied and vast experience as lay man and as priest. As the lay man he worked as the Training Co-ordinator in Agriculture in Trichy Multipurpose Social Service Society and later as Teacher in Kanchipuram and Chennai. He was ordained priest on May 7, 2003. As the priest of the diocese he worked in Pratapgarh and Asnaband Missions in the capacity of the assistant priest. He was involved in the evangelical, educational and social ministry. He has experience in administration and organization. He put his heart, mind and soul into the ministry to enliven people and to promote life in them. He is by nature affectionate and affable, amiable and amicable, kind and compassionate, firm and faithful. Our community is enriched by his presence. It is also a matter of joy to this seminary that the new staff member is an alumnus of this institution. Dear Fr. Joseph Sagayanathan, you are most welcome to this seminary. We wish you all the best in your endeavours as Minister of the house. We assure you of our whole hearted support to you. The seminary is indebted to your Bishop, Most Rev. Isidore Fernandes, Bishop of Allahabad, who had voluntarily proposed your name to replace the former Minister and willingly offered your services to this Regional Seminary. We appreciate, dear Bishop Isidore, your genial gesture and magnanimous heart.

 

Dear Brother Priests in the Lord, you have been my companions and collaborators in the formation of the future priests of North India in this seminary for the last two years. I appreciate your amity and comity with a high degree of confidentiality placed on me and with one another. May we continue to work together with greater commitment and cordiality. With this aspiration I extend a warm welcome to you for this inaugural function of the new scholastic year.

 

 

Next I would like to welcome all the brothers. This year we have a total of 83 brothers registered. There are 14 in the first year of theology, 16 in the second year, 27 in the third year and 26 in the fourth year. With all the love in my heart I welcome each of you, my dear brothers.

 

 

On the first of July 2007 the seminary was rife with life as the old and new students returned to it. In the evening of the second July, they began their annual retreat for six days preached by Fr. Ishanand Vempeny, S.J., who is a well known Indian Theologian, Indologist, Original Thinker, Acclaimed Preacher, who impinged on them by his life and preaching. He underscored the importance of Abba experience, to personalize the ideals of Christ to fight against the anti-Kingdom values, consumerist attitude as well as stressed the Eucharistic celebration to be thusti (joy) and pushti (nourishment) in priestly life.

 

 

At the inception of the scholastic year the staff of the seminary has usually the orientation course for three days. This year as mentioned in the Calendar it will be held from December 10 to 12, 2007 on ANDRAGOGY IN FORMATION by Fr. Joe Thannickal, SDB, to ameliorate the teaching method of the staff. It is aimed at having adult to adult relationships and ensuring greater participation of students in the learning process keeping in mind the VISION-MISSION STATEMENT OF THE SEMINARY.

 

2. Responsibilities of the Resident Staff

 

Last year has been a year of smooth functioning without much hassles and bustles. It was the year of experience of camaraderie and friendship with one another and in the Lord. The scholastic year was ended with the farewell to two record breaking staff members, i.e. Rev. Fr. Sylvester Minj and Rev. Fr. George Kolleril. Hence, we are bound to have changes in the portfolios of the staff, though some continue with the same. I begin with Fr. Paul Falleira, who continues to be the Vice Rector of the Seminary. As the Vice Rector he will be Prefect of Discipline and Member of Finance Committee. He takes delight to look after the garden. Hence, he will continue the productive and educative work as garden in-charge as well as he will look after the literary and games competitions. This year he is freed from supervising the culinary matters. Fr. Francis D’Souza has done the commendable job as the Dean of Theology. He will carry on the task of the Dean. He is also the Director of the Entertainment Committee and of NITSC as well as Incharge of Music. Fr. Philip Denis has graciously acceded to take up the new portfolios as the Librarian and Editor-in-Chief of Milan. I am confident that by your co-operation and support he will be successful in the new tasks. Fr. Joe Njarakulam, S.J. will serve us as the Spiritual Director, Editor of the English Section of Milan, Member of the Finance Committee and Reporter. I appreciate his relentless service to the community with verve and enthusiasm at the age of retirement. He will also continue to teach Church History with zest and gusto. Fr. Cyril Menezes is the new Treasurer of the seminary, the Director of the Committee for Liturgy and Animator of III Year Students of Theology. He is also the member of the Finance Committee. Fr. Telesphore Kerketta takes up the animation work of the I Year Students of Theology and continues to be the Director of Games and Editor of the Hindi Section of Milan. Fr. Stany Wilfred D’Souza continues to be the Director of Pastoral Activities and the animator of II Year Students of Theology with the additional onus of being the Director of Bishop Hartmann Missionary Academy. I appreciate his zeal and enthusiasm for the pastoral and missionary endeavours as well as his willingness to take the new responsibility without making any fuss of the matter. As I stated earlier Fr. Joseph Sagayanathan will serve the community as Minister looking after the Mess and Maintenance. He is also a Member of the Finance Committee.   I, Fr.V.Sebastian, as Rector of the Seminary, accept the role of Co-ordinator and Facilitator of all activities and look after matters regarding your health. Encouraged by the positive comments of the last year fourth year students of theology I take up the role of being Animator of IV Year Students of Theology.

 

3. Sentiments of Gratitude

 

In February 2007 our seminary completed 88 years. Last year we had the joy of sending out into the field 26 zealous and committed young and energetic workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We thank God for making us partners in such a great work.

 

We are grateful to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, for his concern, support and guidance given to us through his talks and exhortations. We value the Holy See’s admonition and help in the formation of the future priests of North India. We are deeply indebted to the Chairman, Most Rev. Albert D’Souza, Archbishop of Agra and to every individual member of the Board of Bishops for all the encouragement, help and guidance given to us.

 

Our benefactors, who support us with their prayers and financial help, play a big role in the efficient and effective administration of the seminary. We are deeply indebted to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Works of St. Peter the Apostle, Rome, MISSIO of Achen, Ms. Corrine Kindschy, Minnesota and Archdiocese of Köln, Germany. We assure our generous benefactors of our prayers, love and gratitude.

 

We are grateful to Pontifical Urban University, Rome, to which our Theologate is affiliated. We thank our good friend Padre Giuseppe Iuliano, Director Pro Istituti Affiliatis, and his collaborators for the service they render to us. We are happy to announce that last year all the forwarded eight students obtained B.Th. from Urbaniana, out of whom two – Fr. Mathew Johny of Udaipur Diocese and Fr. Mathew Attumkal of CMI - obtained the Magna Cum Laude.   

Fr. George Kolleril, having completed more than two terms of service as professor of Philosophy and Systematic, Sacramental Theology and at times as animator, has gone back to his diocese Meerut to take up the new assignment as the Principal of the School. He rendered commendable services to the seminary as the Animator, Librarian and Editor in Chief of Milan. As a voracious reader, eloquent speaker, powerful orator, effective preacher and professor he is fondly remembered in the seminary. He was a demanding teacher, but kind in heart. Thus, he has helped to raise the intellectual standard of the Seminary. He was diligent, assiduous, responsbible and reliable in carrying out his duties. He has been a man of apothegm, cogency and adroit behaviour. As we thank him for his services, we assure him of our love and prayers and wish him every success in the new assignment. In a special way, we thank his Bishop, Most Rev. Patrick Nair for having allowed him to serve the seminary community for about 12 years.

            Another person and personality, who created a record in the seminary as the two terms Minister, who carved a niche in the seminary by being friendly to people in the seminary and in the vicinity, is Fr. Sylvester Minj. He has been a loyal friend and servant to the Lord Jesus Christ, which made him to be magnanimous in his service to the institution with a high degree of sense of belonging to the institution and adjustability. His silent work and methodical, meticulous planning, responsible and reliable character, compassionate and considerate behaviour, amiable and amicable nature endeared many in the city of Allahabad. As Treasurer and Minister he has been a man of probity, integrity, propensity, alacrity, dependability, transparency and accountability. He is known for his human and humane behaviour. He is highly intellectual in the mechanical field, which he used it to the hilt. We express our gratitude to him for his valuable contributions to St.Joseph’s Regional Seminary, Allahabad and wish him all the best in the new endeavours in Varanasi. I am sure that the city and diocese of Varanasi will be enriched by his presence. At this juncture I thank the former Bishop of Varanasi, Most Rev. Patrick Paul D’Souza, who sacrificed him to render service in this seminary and the present Bishop of Varanasi, Most Rev. Raphy Manjaly for his immense good will towards him and to the seminary.

 

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the staff, both resident and visiting, who continue to teach here. We express our indebtedness to the superiors of the resident staff and the Board of Bishops of SJRS for their munificence and magnanimity. Most Rev. Patrick D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus of Varanasi, Most Rev. Albert D’Souza, Archbishop of Agra, Most Rev. Antony Fernandes, Bishop of Bareilly, Most Rev. Isidore Fernandes, Bishop of Allahabad, Most Rev. Raphy Manjaly, Bishop of Varanasi and Rev. Fr. Hector D’Souza the Provincial of South Asia of the Society of Jesus (POSA), are all gratefully remembered for permitting their priests to work in this institute.

 

4. Theme of the Year

 

I have been seriously reflecting over the theme of the year to set before the community to instill in students and staff a programme of action, which the community tries to realize as the year unfolds. I suggest “INTEGRATION OF COMMITTED CITIZENSHIP AND DEDICATED DISCIPLESHIP” as our motto for this year. It calls for patriotism to the nation and loyalty to Christ, the Lord and Master, in whose name we live, move and serve the humans and countrymen.

 

THE COMMITTED CITIZENSHIP to the nation, when she celebrates 150th anniversary of the first freedom struggle in this chronological year, entails to seek not only rights and privileges, but also duties and obligations enshrined in the Indian Constitution to promote freedom, fraternity and equality among citizens as well as instill patriotism in oneself and in the new generation and to take part actively in the national regeneration movement. It calls for courage, conviction and compassion for a noble cause reminding us the sacrifices made by the patriots. In the multi-linguistic, cultural, social, religious milieu as the committed citizens we are called to imbibe, in the words of Swami Saccidhananda Bharathi, “an ‘Islamic body’ of fellowship and prayerfulness, ‘Hindu-Bahai mind’ of universal vision and unity in diversity, ‘Sikh-Buddhist-Jain heart’ of courage, compassion and non-violence, ‘Parsi intellect’ of ingenuity and enterprise, ‘Jewsih will’ of perseverance and adherence to the law, and ‘Christian spirit’ of forgiveness and self-sacrificing love” to make us instruments of God for human solidarity, holistic development and integral peace on earth and in our nation; it is the path to liberation and creation of mosaic piece of unity, not uniformity. The supreme model of and witness to this path to liberation and creation of mosaic piece of unity is Jesus of Nazareth on earth, the Risen Christ, who is alive and active. Hence, the need of the dedicated discipleship.

 

THE DEDICATED DISCIPLESHIP OF CHRIST entails to become like him in everything even in the vicarious suffering and self-sacrificial love to continue his mission of liberation by proclaiming his message of peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, rapprochement, truth and non-violence overcoming the lust of flesh, lust of eyes and lust of mind and witnessing to Him in word, deed and life. Hence, I wish that we join hands in the national regeneration movement with a sense of patriotism and loyalty to Christ, who gave his life, so that we may have life in abundance (Jn 10:10). We shall adapt a liberative spirituality of self-actualization, social transformation and God-realization through sadhna or yoga of forgiving, enduring and self-sacrificing love for the nation and humans.

Now I wind it up wishing every one of you a happy and fruitful new academic year! May the love of God our Father, grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you!

 

Rev.Dr.V.Sebastian                                                                                       Allahabad

Rector                                                                                                           10.07.2007


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